Spring has Sprung!

We are raising Freedom Ranger chickens this year to sell to our friends and community.

 

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The chicks are housed in a 4×4 tote that has been cut in half and filled with stove pellets to keep the ground clean. In the past, we have used heat lamps but due to us being off-grid and relying on our battery bank through the night we found the Brinsea Brooders use the least amount of energy. So far they have worked great and everyone is warm and active. I would not use them in a room that is super cold because I don’t think it has the capability to heat that much but at room temperature it works perfect.

 

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I fell in love the the Lavender Orphingtons I have been seeing online and decided to order a couple dozen hatching eggs. Unfortunately, our hatch rate was horrible! I ended up with five chicks out of the 25 eggs that were sent. I have always had success in my Brinsea Incubator so I am left wondering what happened.  I plan on ordering another set of eggs and trying it all over again.

 

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This little one is getting his or her feathers in. I am really hopeful I have at least one rooster and one hen.

 

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Not only are we raising little chickens we also have four Muscovy ducks in and out of the house. At night they get to go into a tote to stay nice and warm and during the day back outside. The nice thing about Muscovy ducks is you can tell the differences between males and females pretty quickly. The males get big fast and the little ladies stay petite. We probably won’t be keeping the males once they get to a certain weight because I have another chocolate and lavender male running around the ranch. The females will be here to provide us eggs and more ducklings down the road.

 

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We have had some hard times with our goats this year. We lost my first Oberhasli doeling at 5 weeks. I took her down for a Necropsy and there was nothing to report. It was heartbreaking and a huge blow to our perfect kidding record. Then we had Emily’s first freshener doe kid two weeks early and we lost the two bucklings. It is hard to type and admit to the losses but I think it is better to let people know it happens and it hurts but farm life goes on.

 

Here are some happy times with some of our yearling Nigerian Dwarfs:

 

Jack loves to run into the pasture and find “his goat”… this is Emmy giving him a hug.

 

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Emily loves to show me how strong she is and how she can still pick up the “babies”…this is Urban Acres SW Jit’RBug N’Jive.

 

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Oh and my sweet Elizabeth. She too likes to “hug her goat”…this is poor Emmy. (No goats were harmed in the taking of these photos)

 

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Next up to kid is A&W Farms CJ Valentine Olivia, she is due May 1st. Pleases keep us in your thoughts as we are hoping the troubles are behind us.

First Kidding of the Season: GCH PH-Oberjoyed HN Pandora

So where do I start with Miss Pan?

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She was technically due on February 12th…I have not had a life since February 12th! She was in pre-labor FOREVER! I finally told her last night that I was going to come at her with a needle full of Lutelyse if she didn’t get at it. Well, this morning she went into active labor.

She started to do a lot of this…

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And a little of this…

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and up again…

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and down again…and finally a bubble!

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She did a lot of pushing…

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and after a little bit of help we had a doeling!

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She is so beautiful!

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Her Mom is taking great care of her.

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And she is nursing like a champ!

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We have a poll going on our Facebook page to pick her name! Make sure you get your vote in!

Our Oberhasli Dairy Goats

 

Say “CHEESE”!!

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Pandora’s due date is today. That means I will be checking on her every couple hours until she kids. The goats really like to go into labor when my husband is at work. Maybe they are being modest…maybe they just want me all to themselves.

The other oberhasli goats are not due until June. I bred a lot later than usually this year but every time a goat was in heat there was a major storm. Talk about Mother Nature having her hands in all things!

 

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Here are a few of my pregnant Oberhasli goats. They all have naptime right around noon every day!

Front Left: PH-Oberjoyed DHL Crazy*Ober*U

Front Right: SGCH PH-Oberjoyed PH Fire N Ice

Back Left: C.L.G. Farms Bella

Back Right: CLG Farms JKS Blitz

Goat Kidding Season Preparations

With goat kidding season just around the corner I have been prepping our kidding kit and getting the barn ready. We have quite a few does kidding this season so I am stocking up a little more than last year.

I need to get our kidding stalls put back together. I love that they are able to be taken down and give the barn more room in the summer time.

 

So, besides our normal kidding schedule with my does (drying off, worming, C/D&T, etc) I also trim up their backsides.

I try to trim up the does before kidding to make the clean up and nursing easier. My does tend to get a bit hairy during winter so all that fur needs to go. I use my Oster A5 Turbo 2-Speed Professional Animal Clipper and my Wahl Professional 8900 Trimmer Cordless Rechargeable Trimmer to trim them up. I love my cordless trimmers and use it even after milking to trim them up and keep hair out of the milk pail.

 

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I have a rolling tool box that I stock with everything I might need during kidding. We live about an hour and a half from a feed store and it would take a vet about an hour to get to our house so I have to be sure I have all my bases covered.

 

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I keep it next to the kidding stalls so I don’t have to worry about bringing it down. Sometimes it is snowing when I have goats on the ground.

 

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Here are the items that I keep in the kidding box:

  • Puppy Training Pads: Used them to clean the kids off and catch any dripping goo from the doe.
  • Clean Dry Towels: Used for cleaning up the doe and drying off the kids.
  • Feed Bags: To clean up the afterbirth and any dirty towels or training pads.
  • Bottled Water: Used to clean my hands and wetting down towels for clean up.
  • Teat Dip Cup with 7% Iodine: Used to dip their umbilical cord and hooves.
  • Betadine: Used for cleaning up your hands and sterilizing especially if you have to go in to help.
  • OB Lube: To use if you have to go in and help.
  • Latex gloves and Long Plastic Gloves (Insemination Gloves)
  • Dental Floss: To tie umbilical cord if necessary.
  • Rubbing Alcohol: Clean any tools.
  • Baby Nasal Aspirator: To get the gunk out of the noses of the kids.
  • Scissors: If you need to pop the bubble or the cord. I have never had to do either.
  • Weak Kid Syringe: To feed the kid if he is too weak to nurse on his own
  • Gatorade: Great for giving the doe am electrolyte boost if needed.
  • Karo Syrup: Good for giving the doe a boost.
  • Tums: I give my does tums as treats for about two weeks prior to kidding and a couple weeks after. It is great to keep their Calcium up.
  • Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
  • Molasses

 

After kidding I give my does a “After Kidding Tea” that is red raspberry leaf tea with molasses and tums in it. I give it to her warm and they slurp it up quickly. The Red Raspberry Leaf Tea helps stop excess bleeding after kidding and helps tone the uterus back to normal. The molasses gives them some calories and a little pep. The tums helps replenish the calcium that is lost.

 

Also, the day after my doe kids I give her dose of Valbazen (do not use in pregnant does). Since kidding is so stressful, worms tend to wake up and can be very harmful to the doe. I do not like using a lot of chemical wormers in my goats but I believe that this is a good time to use it.

Sunday Recap: Fencing, Watering, Finn Sheep and Breeding

It really doesn’t feel like winter around here. Usually we have a foot of snow, the animals rarely come out of their shelters and we rarely go out of the house. Not this year! I have been enjoying the days we have sun and getting some work done around the ranch.

I wanted to share with you the way fence in our hog pastures. We raise American Guinea Hogs, a heritage breed of hog that is pasture raised and smaller than commercial hogs.

We use field fencing with a strand of hotwire along the bottom to keep them from rubbing against the fence. Yes, you heard right….field fencing with a strand of hot wire. This holds in our boars, sows, weaners and piglets.

 

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You can see that Penny has found the one section of fence we have insulators on and is taking a nap.

 

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I have found that water bowls do not work with hogs. They like to tip them over, lay in them or push them around the pasture.

We use a Hog Nipple that is attached to a 50 gallon barrel. It works great and the water stays clean! My hogs use it and even my Livestock Guardian Dogs use it!

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We have been researching fiber sheep over the last few months. I really love raising heritage breed animals and wanted to find a breed of sheep that were considered a heritage breed. We came across a breed called  Finnsheep.

Finnsheep are a multi-purpose sheep that are well known for their ability to have multiple births (most often 3-4 lambs).  They are a heritage breed that has high quality soft wool, prolific out of season breeding ability, strong maternal instincts and premium lean tender meat.  Their are social, friendly, easy to handle attitude.  All this  makes them a well suited choice to any size farm.  Finnsheep are exceptional milkers, really good mothers, naturally polled (no horns) and are born with short tails that do not require docking. Their soft wool is highly sought after by both spinners and felters for it’s unique qualities.  Their lean tender meat is sought after by restaurants and food lovers alike.

We went to visit a farm that raises these amazing sheep. I loved how personable they were. You would scratch under the chin and they would sit like a dog and shake their tails!! I also was able to bring home a few bags of raw fiber to process and spin!

 

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After you say, “SHEEP, SHEEP, SHEEP!”

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I am on the home stretch of breeding season this year. All of my Nigerian Dwarves have been bred however, my oberhaslis were a little behind.

So this week I have my boys in two different pastures with their selections of ladies.

Smokey looks happy to have two girls to himself!

 

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Blitz on the other hand was too busy eating oak leaves to be bothered by the boy!

 

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Quartz Ridge Ranch’s Goals for 2013

Every year we try to grow our ranch to allow for our family to be less dependent on stores and more on our land. The past year has been one of ups and downs, see (Do you Ever Feel Like Throwing in the Towel). I am looking forward to improving on some of our systems and adding new animals. I believe it is important for a ranch to have goals each year and have a plan to achieve those goals. We are at the point that our ranch has become a business and we need to have a business plan for it to be successful.

Goals for 2013:

  • Start American Guinea Hog CSA – Raise American Guinea Hogs to finish weight for members of our community at a reasonable price.
  • Start our Rabbitry – We will start with 1 buck and 3 does and grow from there when we get a handle on it!
  • Add in a few fiber sheep, preferably Finnish.
  • Purchase a used livestock trailer.
  • All pastures have automatic water for the animals by Summer 2013.
  • Participate in Farmer’s Market by selling eggs, AGH CSA and a few other ideas I have up my sleeve!

Projects for 2013:

  • Build a chicken pasture, divide it and plant it with a chicken forage blend.
  • Build a portable chicken coop for the chicken pasture.
  • Build a structure for hay storage so we can purchase in bulk with minimal loss throughout the year.
  • Add one more large pasture for growing out weaner hogs that connects to the other two hog pastures.
  • Finish front yard of our house – fencing, four gates, lawn and DG for walkway. Add more lavender and rosemary for farmer’s market.
  • Re-build out milking barn – add new windows and easier way to bring the goats in and out. Get our milking machine up and running.

What are you goals for your ranch? I would love any suggestions on ours too!!

Barley Fodder System

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With the increasing price of feed we had to find a solution to our ever growing feed bill. We wanted to keep with feeding our animals what they are supposed to eat and stay away from commercial feeds as much as possible.

We are lucky that we raise hogs that thrive on grass. The reason we purchased them, besides their social behavior, was they are grass eating machines. Our chickens, ducks and geese also eat grass. So, does our horse….Do you see a trend here?

The next thing we had to research is goats. Can goats live off grass only? No. Can they get a lot of nutrients, calories and minerals from it? Yes. Can they eat the fresh grass and then be supplemented with dry roughage? YES!! So we are able to decrease the amount of alfalfa pellets we are feeding, the goat pellets we are feeding and the hay we are feeding when we give them barley fodder!

Fodder? What is Fodder you ask?

Well…for us it is sprouted barley seeds. In our system we have built it takes 8 days for barley to grow from seed to feed all hydroponically.

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We start by soaking organic barley seed in a bucket of water for 12 hours. Then we lay those seeds out in a grow tray with holes punched in the bottom. We then water a few times a day to keep the seeds wet so they can germinate. We continue to water a few times a day until it is green and lush enough for our animals to eat.

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A 10×20” tray feeds all of our chickens (30), geese (3) and muscovy ducks (6) and costs less than $2.00. If we were to weigh the barley fodder and feed according to weight, we would only feed a half a try to them a day. I tear little pieces of it off and throw it into their bowls.

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This chicken was sneaking a treat while I was feeding everyone.

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Since we started small (2 trays a day) we are only feeding our birds and the three American Guinea Hogs. The AGHs are thriving off of it! They eat it like it is candy. The horse took a little while to get used to it. She would eat the green part and leave the roots until one day the roots were gone. She now eats her entire biscuit.

We are slowly building a larger system to grow enough barley fodder for our entire ranch. I would like to be up to 8 trays a day so I have plenty of feed to add on more animals in the future.

One thing we are having some difficulty with is temperature regulation. The barley grows best at about 70 degree. If it is hotter it will mold quicker and not grow. If it is colder it will grow but take twice a long. We are insulating the area we are growing it in to keep the heat in. I am trying to figure out a way to heat it without spending a lot of money on a heater, wasting propane or using up our electricity.

As soon as we get the system fully running I will make a video to share with you all!